China’s top intelligence agency reportedly commissioned an artificial intelligence (AI)-based system to track US spies and others. The Chinese AI system can create instant dossiers on “persons of interest”, reports The New York Times. “The AI-generated profiles would allow the Chinese spies to select targets and pinpoint their networks and vulnerabilities,” the report mentioned, citing internal meeting memos.
The Ministry of State Security (M.S.S.), China’s main intelligence agency, has built itself up through wider recruitment, including of American citizens. “The agency has sharpened itself through better training, a bigger budget and the use of advanced technologies to try to fulfil the goal of Xi Jinping, China’s leader, for the nation to rival the US as the world’s pre-eminent economic and military power,” the report claimed.
The M.S.S. is using AI to challenge US spymasters in a way the Soviets could not. “For China in particular, exploiting the existing technology or trade secrets of others has become a popular shortcut encouraged by the government,” Yun Sun, director of the China programme at the Stimson Center, a Washington-based research institute, was quoted as saying in the report.
According to David Cohen, Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) deputy director, the agency under US President Joe Biden “was making investments and reorganising to meet the challenge of collecting on Chinese advances”. “We’ve been counting tanks and understanding the capability of missiles for longer than we have been as sharply focused on the capability of semiconductors or A.I. algorithms or biotech equipment,” Cohen said in an interview.
To get a better understanding of which technologies China is targeting, the CIA has begun asking American executives and scholars for insights about what Chinese companies are trying to develop.